Polish Architect Wows Swiss with Mixed-Use Timber Design

Layers of cross-laminated timber and traditional timber framing combine with concrete, stone and slate to deliver an incredible multi-purpose building.

Fri 07 Jul 23


One of Poland’s leading architectural studios is set to conquer Switzerland after unveiling plans for their latest masterpiece – a mixed-use project set in the heart of Unterschachen, 160 km from Bern.

Built with timber to harmonise with the climate, landscape and stunning scenery of the surrounding Alpine landscape, The Swiss House is “a contemporary interpretation” of the traditional Gotthard-style architecture of the region.

BXB studio designed the 1050 square metre building, designed over two years, and will incorporate commercial, residential, tourist, and office space.

“The Swiss House” as set back on the mountain. (Image Credit: BXB Studio)

BXB studio was behind “The Polish Farmhouse”, covered by Dezeen in 2022, involving five overlapping buildings combined to restore a century-old homestead.

The Swiss House set back from the street – with different building materials visible. (Image Credit: BXB Studio)

Consisting of three fundamental layers – much like the Gotthard houses that dominate the area – the first layer features a concrete base which, like the traditional stone bases, seeks to ‘protect and anchor’ the building to the steep slope that it’s built on.

The second layer is a “timber log structure”, which uses cross-laminated timber (CLT). It includes two two-storey apartments with scenic views.

Thanks to the reconfiguration of the floors, these apartments offer views on all three sides – east, south, and west.

And the final layer 
is a timber frame structure with a roof truss covered in slate stone.

The design blends modern and traditional building materials. (Image Credit: BXB Studio)

Clusters of traditional buildings on alpine slopes form dynamic, zigzag compositions of roofs with the characteristic regional pitch.

An aerial image of the slate roofs which top a mixed-timber frame and a concrete base (Image Credit: BXB Studio)

The lightweight timber frame structure accommodates four two-storey mountain micro-apartments for rent and two-story co-working office space.

The cascading arrangement of grouped roofs allows for all interiors to open up to a spectacular southern view of the Alpine peaks.

Cross Laminated Timber is used extensively in the second layer, whilst the final layer uses a conventional softwood timber frame. (Image Credit: BXB Studio)

“These lightweight timber frame structures will accommodate four two-storey mountain micro-apartments for rent and a two-storey co-working office space,” says the BXB Studio.

According to the studio, the co-working space and mountain micro apartments are accessible from an external urban terrace adjacent to the mountainside on the third floor. (Image Credit: BXB Studio)

Moreover, the architectural team, led by founder Bogusław Barnaś, has stressed environmental credentials that have sought to minimise energy consumption and resource exploitation.

Despite having six floors, “the building does not have an elevator, yet remains easily accessible for all users,” according to the studio.

The six-storey building is accessible via a stair adjacent to the building. (Image Credit: BXB Studio)

The daytime area of both apartments is located on the easily accessible first floor, while the sleeping area with bedrooms is on the floor above.

On the third floor, the co-working space and micro-apartments are accessible from an external urban terrace adjacent to the mountainside.

BXB has been honoured by Wallpaper Magazine, the Architecture Master Prize competition, the London International Creative Awards and the SARP Award, Poland’s most coveted architecture prize.


  • Wood Central

    Wood Central is Australia’s first and only dedicated platform covering wood-based media across all digital platforms. Our vision is to develop an integrated platform for media, events, education, and products that connect, inform, and inspire the people and organisations who work in and promote forestry, timber, and fibre.


Related Articles